Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Unexpected car buddy

I’ve heard that it’s bad for computers to run when the surrounding temperature is above 30C (about 86F), IIRC - - plus, it’s just not pleasant for the human - - so I’ve been going off to the local - - air-conditioned! - - library for the last few days to work on my Dissertation.

This morning when I got into my car, I saw that a spider had spun its web between the front of the passenger seat and the bottom of the dashboard. Hm! I don’t **remember** letting a spider in...

An interesting web: instead of being like a flat disk, it was more of a gossamer matrix, constructed from a series of interlocking triangles.

I left the web there, since after all, a spider’s gotta eat! Hopefully, it’ll eat whatever other bug-lets are running around the inside of my car (which shouldn’t be too many, since I keep the windows closed).

Whenever our whole family goes out, we tend to take The Lady’s car - - so when I drive my car, it’s either ‘’just me’’, or else me plus The Kid in the toddler seat in back. so, I’ll leave the spider there until I have an actual passenger.

Hey! I guess I already **do** have a passenger! ;)


Monday, January 29, 2007

Potential band names and/or album titles

Guitar Pastor is leaving town in about two weeks, so I’m allowing myself one more evening of blowing off my Dissertation in favor of hanging out with him. Found a few more CDs I’d like to show him, and hopefully he’ll have a few to inflict upon me as well.

In preparation for getting together tomorrow night, I’ve printed out copies of my ‘’Potential Band Names and/or Album Titles’’ file. As regular readers of my blog have probably surmised, I keep a running list of catchy phrases that might become - - well, good band names or album titles. My oldest-listed one is from June of 1998.

After printing them, I tallied them up: Forty-two that would be good band and/or album names, and twenty-seven that would be good album titles (but probably not work as a band name). And - - in my opinion - - most of them are pretty good. ;)

The reason I printed them out is that I’d like Guitar Pastor (and his wife, if she’s interested) to have a glance through and help me pick out the top five or so. Even though Guitar Pastor is moving away, both his and his wife’s parents live here in town - - so, he’ll be back for holidays and visits. I’d like him to form a musical ‘’project’’ with me, and if we do that, we’ll need some sort of name.

I used to think it was pretentious for musicians to refer to their teaming up with other musos as a ‘’project’’, instead of just calling it a band - - but now I understand the distinction: If it’s a one-off, or highly intermittent, thing, then it’s not a proper ‘’band’’. Hence, a ‘’project.’’


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Applied for a job

Well, I submitted a job application yesterday; we'll see if anything comes of it.

It's for a research assistant position at a local university. They're using a simulation software package -- Extend -- to model the criminal justice system. It combines a background knowledge in criminology/criminal justice with dinking around with computers: could be fun!

Unfortunately, the timing's a little off: I'm hoping to wrap up the ''good draft'' of my Ph.D. Dissertation by the end of Feb. or early-to-mid-March. However, they want to hire someone as soon as possible, such that the new person's time overlaps with the existing guy's remaining days on the job -- and he leaves in, umm, mid-March.

But, I'm hoping that **if** they're interested in hiring me, I can negotation some sort of half-time deal for the first month or so. Otherwise, I'm afraid I'll -- yet again -- torpedo my Dissertation progress for the sake of full-time employment.

Of course, they may not even **want** me. We'll see. ;)


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Early-morning pedestrians

So this morning, we're woken by the sound of Ralphie barking: He's apparently heard something, and has run outside to warn off the intruders, invaders, whatever. Bark bark bark bark bark.

I hear people talking: Not uncommon for bicyclists or walkers to pass by our house and set the dog off.

Ralphie keeps barking. It's whatever-o'clock in the morning. ''RALPH!!!'' Continued barking. And barking. ''RALPH!!! QUIET!!!''

More barking. The voices are still there. Hm -- either they're **really** slow walkers, or they've stopped to look at our house. I hear mentions of ''hacienda-style''. Hm.

What's the time? 7am -- on a Saturday. Bleh. I **was** asleep.

I sit up in bed, put on my glasses, and look out the window: Our bedroom is in the front of the house, and my side is closest to the window. A couple in their 60s is standing at our front fence, next to their small, white hatchback, parked. They're looking at our house and taking pictures. Huh. Must be tourists.

They see my face in the window! ''Hi! We're here to count the birds!'', they woman calls out. Huh?

Slow, groggy, early-morning comprehension. Bird counting...?

Next-Door Uncle occassionally has conservationist-type people looking at his woods. ''Ah! You want Uncle Frank's place -- next door!''

''Ah,'' they say, and walk off. No ''sorry to wake you'', ''sorry to have set your dog off'', ''sorry we can't read the house number that's painted on the mailbox we're standing next to''.

Funny that they didn't take their car with them, given that -- because we live on acreage -- it's about a city block away. Balmy bird-watchers.

As I lay back in bed and try to go back to sleep -- we'd foolishly stayed up late watching DVDs the night before -- I realized I should have borrowed a line from ''Monty Python and the Holy Grail'':

When the lady said they were there to count the birds, I should've said, ''I'ma sorry, but-a we dinna gots none!''


Friday, January 19, 2007

When is edible liquid a drink

So, I was rinsing out a container from the 'fridge that had just a little leftover spaghetti sauce. The contents were still perfectly edible, with nutritional value -- although a bit cold -- so I poured it into my mouth and drank it.

Now, some people might find that disgusting; I don't [obviously]. But it got me thinking...

If it was just the liquid, without the little bits of ground beef and onion, and I poured it in a juice glass, people would think that's gross.

But if I poured it in a mug, and heated it up, then it would be ''broth'' -- perfectly acceptable.

So: juice squeezing can be drank cold. Tomato-and-meat squeezings can be drank hot, as long as there's no chunks. If there **are** chunks, then you need to use a spoon, and it's now ''soup''.



Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cool feet on a hot day

Both The Lady and her mum **hate** having hot feets on a hot day: makes 'em feel even warmer.

A few days ago, I came up with something that helps.

I've been sitting in the spare bedroom (our ''home office''), typing on my Dissertation, and sweating like a monkey -- despite having a floor fan, the windows open, etc.

Got our plastic dishpan (but a small plastic storage tote would work, too -- anything waterproof and rectangular), poured in a few inches of water, and tossed in five or six ice cubes. Not enough to make my feet go numb, but just enough to be... COLD!

Every half hour or so, I'd have to go get more ice cubes. But, yeah -- it really helped! Felt a bit dorky, typing with my feet in a tub of icewater under my desk -- but, hey.

Thought of Tara (one of my regular blog readers [thankee!]), who also doesn't like the heat. I realize it's still winter for you Americans -- but just keep it in mind for this summer, and give it a try. :)


Shed update

The Lady's parents bought a plain, zinc-colored shed (plain silver metal, rather than colored) on special, at the same place we looked at a few days ago. AU$350 (about US$260) for 3m x 3m (about 10 ft. x 10 ft.); almost half the price of any of their other stuff in the same size range. Phoned up and ordered it, will be delivered next Weds. (in kit form; U-assemble).

Just for our boxes of misc., to get them out of the house. In a year or so, **then** we'll order the two-car garage. Meanwhile, I guess I'll just do woodworking stuff out under the carport. When I Finish My Dissertation, of course. ;)



...'cause we don't have a ladder.

For lunch today, I ate an entire cantaloupe. Healthy, although not nutritionally balanced, I suppose.

During the summer months, I like making cantaloupe slushies. Reasonably nutritious, and no added sugar (the cantaloupe is sweet enough!). Takes up room in the freezer, though, which we don't have at our current place (small 'fridge); I'll do it at our new place, though.


-Cut up cantaloupe into approx. cubes
-Freeze 'em (I put them in a jumbo margarine tub; some sort of plastic container, with a lid)
-Grab a bunch of the cubes and put them in the blender
-Add milk (soy milk works fine) for smoothness, and to dilute it a bit
-Blend; if it gets too thick, add more milk

As I was thinking about my cantaloupe slushies as I ate my lunch, I remembered that the cubes of cantaloupe would often freeze together, making it difficult to break off the desired amount for my slushie. An improvement might be to put the fresh cantaloupe in the blender, make a puree (like applesauce, but out of cantaloupe), and pour it into a **lot** of ice cube trays. Then, use the ''cantaloupe-cubes'' as needed. Plastic cheapie ice cub trays are pretty inexpensive now-a-days; they seem to turn up at garage sales a lot, too.

Here in Aussie-land, ''cantaloupes'' are called ''rock melons''. Just in case you visit here, and need to go produce shopping.

And, in writing this blog entry, I realized that I can't spell ''recipe'' and ''cantaloupe'' without referencing the spell-checker. Sad.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hanging with my music buddy

Went over to Guitar Pastor's house last night. Showed up around 7:30pm; stayed until around half-past midnight. Clearly, we were both having a good time (otherwise, I would've made my excuses, or he would've kicked me out). ;)

I brought sixteen CDs that I thought he should be indoctrinated to: ones that were either Seattle bands, or ones that probably made the U.S. ''alternative'' charts but hadn't made it to Australia; or simply ones that I thought he might like. For each album, I chose -- often, with some difficulty -- the strongest track: the catchiest, and/or the most representative of the band, or that album.

It was much like a wine-tasting party: I'd give a little background to the band, how I discovered the band, and the general genre or sound of the band (e.g. ''folk'', ''goth''). Then I'd play the track; we'd respectfully listen thru the intro, verse, and first chorus, and then offer up short comments as appropriate. After the song, we'd discuss it a bit, similarities with other bands, etc.

Of the sixteen CDs I brought, didn't own any of them, although he'd heard of a few; for four of the songs, he'd heard them on the radio (and liked them), but hadn't known who'd done them. Five of the CDs he opted to borrow, to listen to the rest of the songs. He said he was pleasantly surprised in that he liked all of the songs I brought; all of them were consistent with his ''realm'' of musical tastes.

He moves to his new parish in mid-February, so we'll get together one more time, to do another listening party. This time, he'll supply most of the songs -- although I thought of three more albums I want to show him.

By the way, here's the list of albums; gives you a sense of my musical tastes. I excluded Devo, The Cars, and the Ramones, figuring that he would have been exposed to them already (he's my age). In no particular order:

  1. The Pres. of the United States -- ((self-titled; has “Lump”, “Peaches”, etc.))

  2. Cake -- Comfort Eagle

  3. Jill Sobule -- ((self-titled; has “I Kissed a Girl”))

  4. Smithereens -- 11 ((as in ''This one goes to...''))

  5. Smithereens -- Green Thoughts

  6. Dan Bern -- Dog Boy Van

  7. Laptop -- User’s Guide

  8. Love Spit Love -- Trysome Eatsome

  9. David Francey -- Far End of Summer

  10. Sisters of Mercy -- Vision Thing

  11. Chumbawamba -- Tubthumping “single” (4 songs)

  12. MC Lars -- The Graduate

  13. Bell -- A Clear Sense of Beauty

  14. Ani DiFranco -- Not a Pretty Girl

  15. Psychedelic Furs -- World Outside

  16. Michael Penn -- March

And, here's two of the ones I'll bring for next time:

  • Material Issue -- International Pop Overthrow

  • King’s X -- Faith, Hope, Love

Ayep! :)

Oh: Learned that his and his wife's parents both live in the other end of Brisbane from us: so, it's highly likely that he'll swing by to visit whenever they're in town to visit their family. As opposed to their family living out-of-state, so he'd have to make a special trip to Brisbane just to see me: not as likely.

Good stuff.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Almost as genius an idea: workshed

O.k., so it's probably going to be too expensive to build the two-garage garage/workshed/mega-shed right off: all the components nickel-and-dime their way into being too much -- at least for a few months, or a year, or whatever.

I had this -- what I thought, anyhow -- pretty clever, innovative idea:

Three of the large costs will be the assembly fees, the council registration fees, and having the concrete slab put down. I was in the shower this morning, mind kind of wandering -- as always -- and came up with the idea of getting a used camping trailer, or motor home (what Aussies call a ''caravan''), stripping out the insides, and using **that** for my woodshop and box storage shed. It's portable, so technically isn't not a building, and thus don't need to register building plans for it. It's off the ground, so we wouldn't need to lay a concrete foundation (just put it up on blocks). And there's no construction involved, so no waiting time, and no extra construction fees.

I did a quick search of the classifieds, and I could get one for about AU$1,500 [US$1,125]. And that's without doing much price-hunting; could probably get one cheaper if the interior is more run-down (since I'd be stripping it out, anyhow). When it had outlived its usefulness, we could sell it for darned cheap, just to get it off the property. And in the meantime, we could put up a trellis with vines in front of it, to hide it from view (for the aesthetics).

We'll see if The Lady goes for this idea.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Grown-up stuff costs a lot!!!

This morning, before my daily Dissertation-ing, The Lady, The Kid, and I went to a sheds, carports, and garages place that The Lady's folks recommended. Their sheds and garages have metal frames, with sheetmetal skins -- the standard for Australia, since lumber is so expensive here. We got some more information on pricings, etc.

The initial cost for double garages (i.e. two-car garages) is pretty reasonable -- in the very low thousands. Sadly, though, by the time you add in the cost for the concrete floor and the delivery and assembly, you've doubled the cost.

And considering I'd like a window or two, and some skylights, and a person-sized door on the side of the building (rather than just the ''garage door'' on the front), this adds another AU$850 [US$650] to the cost. Not a deal-breaker -- but it all adds up.

And, this doesn't include the filing fees for getting approval from the city Council: probably a few hundred bucks there, as well.

So, it looks like my peddling around in the garage may have to wait. Bummer.

The cost wouldn't be a problem if we were on two incomes. But, as I discovered last year, when I start working full-time, my Dissertation productivity just plummets. Given that I **really** want to wrap this thing up -- by the end of this [North American] school year, no less -- taking a job right now wouldn't be strategic.

The solution, of course, would be to just pile our boxes, suitcases, Christmas ornaments, etc. in the spare bedroom (or some other room in the house), for the first year or so until we can build the two-car garage. The Lady's fear, however, is that once piled, the boxes will never leave.

A reasonable fear.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

My most genius idea EVER

Our plans for accommodating my various hobbies -- and storage of our many, many boxes until we're able to sort through them all -- has gone through many permutations. The nearly-current plan was that we would build a small-to-medium-sized shed for my woodworking-plus-box-storage, and then when we could afford it (3-5 years hence?), build the mega-shed as well. In the mean time, the boxes would be out of the house, and I'd have somewhere to do my woodworking.

The NEWEST incarnation, however, is to build the mega-shed from the get-go. (This assumes we can afford it; we still need to crunch the numbers.) Since most of the cost would be in the acoustic treatment I'd apply, the shed itself -- basically, the size of a bare-bones two-car garage -- wouldn't cost much more than the size of my ''boxes-plus-woodshed'' we were leaning towards, anyhow. Building just the big shed, rather than a woodshed and then the mega-shed later, would limit the proliferation of misc. sheds in the back yard -- which would please The Lady.

During the transitional period (again, the next 3-5 years), I'd set up my music gear in the spare bedroom. My woodworking stuff I'd set up in one corner of the two-car garage (which will never actually house a car), and we'd just throw sheets over the boxes, to keep the sawdust off. (Or, tape the tops shut, and not worry about it.) Eventually, we'd wall in the woodshop area, build shelves along one wall for the boxes (and suitcases, Christmas ornaments, etc.), and very eventually do all the fancy sound-insulating acoustic treatment that I'd like. Eventually.

My brilliant idea is this: During the transitional period, instead of stacking the boxes, spread them out as a single layer, and shape them into mazes. **Then**, get a few Big Wheels and Green Machines (Green Machines come in adult sizes!!! Up to 180 lbs., IIRC), and chase each other around the ''track''. Lay out some directional arrows, to avoid head-on-collisions. And, if I could get ahold of some sort of Nerf (soft foam) projectile launcher, I could mount them to the handlebars, and we could have dogfights!!! Either free-for-all (playing ''tag''?), or in teams.

I've always wanted to have bumper cars in my back yard, but I knew in my heart that I never would. Perhaps this is a dream fulfilled...


Friday, January 05, 2007

Aha! moment

I get some of my best ideas when I'm driving in the car, in the shower, or lying in bed about to fall asleep. Probably because that's when I start to free-associate; my mind just kinda wanders.

This morning in the shower, I absent-mindedly realized that the poem ''The Charge of the Light Brigade'' isn't about a ''Light Brigade'' -- as in, not from the Dark Side. (This mis-understanding probably comes from growing up in a post-Star Wars world.) Instead, it's a light brigade -- i.e. as opposed to the heavy brigade, with heavy artillery and such.